Sabah Zanganeh a former diplomat and a relative of Iran’s Supreme Leader has said in an interview, "The mood is positive, let's talk with America face to face."
This was one of the rare optimistic views coming out of Iran in recent days about the nuclear negotiations in Vienna. Most political analysts are not optimistic about the likelihood of Iran and the United States returning to their commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal known as JCPOA.
Zanganeh, a relative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei through marriage, told the reformist Arman newspaper that the general atmosphere in Vienna shows that there is an increasingly positive trend which makes reaching a result more likely. "The fact that the new Iranian negotiators have come to the conclusion that they need to accept the previous six rounds of the nuclear talks as a basis for the current round of talks is a positive step," he said.
The former diplomat added that America's withdrawal from the nuclear deal caused big economic losses for Iran. "There will be more losses if the current situation continues," Zanganeh added that the two sides need to tweak their positions in a way that would lead to the lifting of sanctions imposed on Iran.
Asked if the situation is ripe for lifting the sanctions, Zanganeh said, "There is evidence indicating the Americans have accepted to lift JCPOA-related sanctions. Of course, the priorities for lifting the sanctions have not been determined yet." He added: "On the other hand, it is not clear what would the United States demand against lifting the sanctions and how would Iran react to those demands."
Generally, Zanganeh concluded that based on assessments made about the first two days of the negotiations, reaching results during a short period is likely if the United States and the European countries show goodwill. However, he acknowledged that while the US insists on direct talks with Iran, the Iranian delegation is still adamant that the talks should take place collectively and in the presence of other JCPOA member states.
Meanwhile, he noted that the only country that is against direct talks between Iran and America is Israel, although there might also be opposition among Arab states. The opposition might attempt to obstruct the direct talks, but both Iran and the United States need to tackle possible opposition delicately and not allow pressures from outside to affect the talks.
Zanganeh also noted that Iran has rejected the United States' call for extending some of JCPOA restrictions or imposing new limitations on Iran's nuclear program. He added that Iran will not accept the United States' demand for lowering uranium enrichment level to what was agreed in JCPOA. However, he said that Iran will accept the demand only if a proportionate reduction is made in US sanctions. Tehran also wants the United States and Europe to guarantee that Washington will not leave the agreement again.
Zanganeh also called on Iranian hardliners who have been denying the impact of sanctions on the country’s economy should change their approach and understand the reality that Iranians are calling for lifting economic pressure that has led to hardship for the great majority of the people with ordinary incomes.